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Rounding up recipes. March 23, 2010

Posted by ourfriendben in chickens, gardening, homesteading, recipes, wit and wisdom.
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Silence Dogood here. With spring sprung, seeds sown, and herbs and veggies beginning to make an appearance in our garden beds, my thoughts are turning to the recipes of spring.

One of our friend Ben’s and my favorite spring lunches is ‘French Breakfast’ radishes sliced and spread on slices of buttered crusty baguette, then salted and served with sharp white Cheddar, scallions (green onions), and kalamata olives on the side, often with a simple salad of spring greens, such as arugula and mesclun, with grapefruit segments, dressed simply with balsamic vinegar, extra-virgin olive oil, and salt (we like RealSalt). Yum!!!

Spring favorites like ‘Sugar Snap’ and snow peas begin to make regular and much-appreciated appearances at our dinner table, both as sides and in stir-fries. New potatoes suddenly seem more suitable dinner fare than baked potatoes. As more of our herbs appear, I begin thinking of harvesting peppermint for tea and salad (fresh peppermint can really wake up a salad!), sage for ravioli with a brown butter-sage sauce, garlic chives for salads and stir-fries, chives for those potatoes and carrots, and cilantro for all our favorite Mexican and Indian dishes.

Now that our chickens are laying eggs again, I’ve even started contemplating making egg salad and potato salad, in addition to hardboiling those delicious eggs for slicing in salads. And as the time draws closer for moving all our tender container plants out of the greenhouse and onto the deck for the growing season, I can’t help but plan to plant some ginger root in our in-ground bed in the greenhouse and see if I can’t grow my own ginger this year. (I already have lemon grass, cardamom, purple artichokes, Aloe barbadensis/vera, and a dwarf banana growing in there; why not ginger?)

Our friend Ben and I are huge fans of greens, herbs, alliums, and radishes, and grow as many of all of the above as we can manage to squeeze into our garden beds. In addition to topping baguettes with them, we enjoy radishes in salads, eaten whole with a little salt as a snack, and in a delicious dip. I’ll give you that recipe in a second, but first, let me get to the point of this post. Which is, that people are always asking me for recipes, since they know I love cooking and have an extensive recipe and cookbook collection.

Needless to say, I’m happy to oblige. Whether it’s my brother asking how to prepare the venison a well-meaning colleague bestowed on his family for Christmas, blog readers requesting the recipe for the famous and irresistible fruitcake prepared by Mma Potokwane in Alexander McCall Smith’s beloved No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, or my dear friend Huma regretting that her mother’s fabulous recipe for curried lambs’ brains had been lost, I consider it a challenge to see what I can find. (Yes, I did find recipes for venison and curried lambs’ brains. And yes, I did e-mail Mr. McCall Smith and suggest that he add The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency Cookbook, including of course the famous fruitcake recipe, to his celebrated series, and was told that his publisher had also suggested this, but that the author was rather busy writing the many novels in his many series and hadn’t had time to get to it yet. Alas.)

In case you recall that I’m a dedicated vegetarian who’d as soon eat nails as meat-related anything, including the gelatin that seems to pervade the most unlikely foods, including many brands of yogurt, you might wonder why I’d spend time checking on recipes for venison, lambs’ brains, and the like.

But I refuse to stand in judgment on folks who eat meat, including my own beloved OFB as well as my family. That’s their decision. I have no doubt that they engage in practices that benefit the planet, from tithing in church to visiting the elderly incarcerated in nursing homes to cooking meals for the homeless in soup kitchens or delivering Meals on Wheels for the homebound to donating money to preserve the rainforest or buying organic food, supporting their local CSA and/or food co-op, or buying sustainably grown coffee from a village cooperative. We all must make the decision about what we can do and then do it. I like to think that, by being vegetarian, I spare animals from slaughter and promote local vegetable and fruit producers. But I also think that folks who support local, organic, sustainably raised meat animals are doing their share to give those animals a good life, a life they would never have had if everyone was vegetarian like me. As the saying goes, to each his own way of earning fame.

So if you’re looking for a recipe and having trouble finding it, I’ll be happy to help out, or share my own version. And meanwhile, here’s that radish dip recipe. Welcome spring!

            Spring Radish Dip

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 tablespoon chopped chives or scallions (green onions)

1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill leaves (not seeds)

1-2 tablespoons prepared horseradish, drained

1 cup finely chopped or grated radishes

shredded or crumbled cheese (sharp white Cheddar, feta, or gorgonzola), if desired

salt to taste (we like RealSalt)

Mix all ingredients, cover, and refrigerate for 1-2 hours. Stir well before serving. Serve on slices of baguette, rye, or pumpernickel, with crackers, or as a dip with carrot or celery sticks, red, yellow, or orange bell pepper strips, broccoli florets, Romaine, endive, or radicchio leaves, or cherry tomatoes.

               ‘Til next time,




1. nancybond - March 23, 2010

Yum! I love radishes and your dip sounds delish! I also love the idea of your ‘French Breakfast’.

Try them and enjoy, Nancy!

2. Rounding up recipes. « Poor Richard's Almanac | ClubEvoo - March 23, 2010

[…] Original post: Rounding up recipes. « Poor Richard's Almanac […]

3. Dave@TheHomeGarden - March 24, 2010

I envy your chickens! To have fresh eggs in the summer with peppers and mushrooms in an omelet would be perfect. Of course we aren’t anywhere close to pepper season, but I can think ahead! I’ll have to try mint in the salad. I mainly use that in tea but the way mint goes there is more than enough to go around. The chocolate mint and spearmint are growing wild as we speak!

Surely you can find room for three chickens, Dave! You’ll never regret it! Now that the greenhouse is up and running, it’s time for another project, right? And no eggs taste like homegrown. Go for it!!! Mint is great in salads, alone or with other fresh herbs like basil and thyme. Try it, you’ll like it!

4. meaunnme - March 24, 2010

I could definitely feel your passion for cooking in your words. I love the challenge aspect of cooking, too, and exploring the science. Sometimes I realize how much I’ve learned about how a certain ingredient is going to react to certain cooking methods or with other ingredients, and it fuels me to explore more.
Realy i like this idea!

Thanks and welcome, meaunnme! I love learning everything I can about using an ingredient in all sorts of ways. It’s fascinating!

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